Falafel

This is a fantastic guide to making homemade falafel, from First We Feast.

  • You need dried garbanzo beans. I’ve tried to make it from canned before, and the texture isn’t right. One cup of dried chickpeas will yield you about a dozen falafel, which, unless you’re opening your own falafel stand, is all you’ll want to fry.
  • So, this is how you prepare beans for falafel: Put them in a pot or bowl, pour water until the level is a few inches above the beans, cover, and leave for at least 12 hours. That’s it.
  • For each cup of dried beans, you’ll want half a medium onion, two small cloves of garlic, ¾ teaspoon salt, and a handful of either parsley or cilantro—or both—plus big pinches of dried ground cumin and coriander. [Mine were delish, really great chickpea flavor, but I’ll probably use more seasoning than suggested here in the future.]
  • To get the right consistency, drain the soaked chickpeas well. Add them to the food processor with your minced onion, minced garlic, chopped herbs, spices, and salt. Then, process. The goal is to achieve dough where the chickpeas have been nearly pulverized but the overall texture is not too pasty.Pulse the processor slowly until you reach the desired consistency.

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  • Your first thought upon picking up the dough will be that it won’t hold its shape in a deep fryer. Because of the lack of binder, you won’t be able to roll your falafel dough like a cookie; that will make it fall apart. Instead, pinch the dough and lightly pat it into 1½-inch balls. [My falafel balls wouldn’t stay together, so I added about 2 tbsp flour to the mixture, and that made all the difference.]
  • Deep frying is nowhere near as intimidating as you think. At the same time that you start processing the falafel, heat a few inches of high-heat oil (safflower is great; I used vegetable) in a heavy pot (I did it in my cast iron pan) over medium-high heat. Leave it there while you prep the falafel and shape the balls. It will get hot! When you think it might be hot enough, drop a small piece of falafel batter into the oil. It should sizzle immediately, then turn golden brown in less than a minute. If you have a thermometer, you’ll want the oil to be at 350°F.

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  • When the oil is ready, pick up a falafel ball with a fork and gently lower it into the oil. Repeat with two more balls—cook three at a time so you don’t crowd the pan. (I did about 6-7 at a time.) After two minutes, turn the falafel around to cook all sides, then cook until it’s golden brown all around. When you pull them out, place the balls on paper towels to soak up the oil. Though you don’t want to make falafel too far in advance, they’ll keep their crispiness for up to an hour if left at room temperature. (I even refrigerated the left overs over night and they were good the next day.)

Really, not as hard as you think for a worthwhile treat!

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